Story and photographs by Tom Strongman
FROGTOWN, Kan. — The slender white steeple rising from the roof of a metal building in this rural Crawford County settlement one mile west of Franklin, Kan., marks Charles Ales’ Mustang Church of America and Museum.
Ales, age 74, is a retired math teacher who taught in Wichita. He and his son, Robert Brunch, have long been car enthusiasts and now both are ministers ordained by the nondenominational Universal Ministries School of Theology. A recent inheritance gave Ales the resources to fulfill his dream of building a 7,000-square-foot church and museum on his property.
This is “the only church in the world dedicated to the Mustang car and Jesus Christ,” Ales said. “I’m going to preach goodness. Treat other people like you want to be treated, make this a better planet and make this place a better world than when you found it.”
The church will not be complete and ready for dedication until late this summer or early fall when parking and landscaping are in place. Ales has commissioned an 8-by-10 foot mural to be mounted behind the altar showing Jesus Christ behind the wheel of a 1966 Mustang.
Ales plans to conduct weekly worship services once the church is complete, and he will have Mustang blessings a couple of times each year. He also hopes to host car shows and swap meets.
Inside the church building, eight Mustangs, angled toward the altar, are parked along the walls while tables and chairs are placed in the center.
Ales’ collection of Mustangs includes a 1966 convertible that he restored himself and three Boss Mustangs: a 302, 351 and a 429. Ales bought the rare Boss 429 years ago for $3,500. The Boss 429 was essentially hand-built for racing, and a total of 1,359 were built during 1969 and 1970.
Ales’ collection also includes four new Shelby Mustangs, two of which are GT500s.
“One day a man stopped and asked, ‘If I bring my Camaro by, will you bless it for me?’” Ales chuckled and replied, “I bless only Fords.”
|This mural will be mounted behind the pulpit.|
|John Ireland, right, rode his vintage motorcycle in the Tour d' Elegance.|